“It feels like I’ve woken up from a 7 month long dream,” I said, as we cruised through the cold, quiet streets of my Ohio hometown, heading towards my sister’s house. “I thought I’d feel weird.”
Yesterday we’d been driving through our town in Mexico around the same time in the evening. That also felt normal. Somehow, that now felt so far away. Do we really live in Mexico? Is that really our life? On the brightly lit salt covered roads, it felt like it was a lifetime away, instead of a mere 10 hours.
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Wonky Emotional Crap
I expected to feel strange or different. Instead, everything felt normal. The cold, the language, and going over to my sister’s house. It was all so incredibly normal. We haven’t been away for 7 months, because everything is the same. Apparently, that carried over to my kids.
“I don’t want to go back to Mexico,” my 5 year old son started crying.
Can we not do this now? And not everyday for 18 days? I think. Please?
Fast Forward to day 2
A wave of desperation washed over me. I want to go home (to Mexico)! My thoughts bounced off my head in a wail. I don’t live here anymore.
An hour later, I just as strongly wanted to stay in the US. This is my home, where my family lives! And I don’t know if I really fit in or belong in Mexico. My heart hurts.
Emotions are weird. I’m assured by friends that these emotions are normal for expats, by my friends who have moved to the US from other countries. There’s no way they could’ve warned me.
Other than that crazy couple of emotional hours on our second day, I didn’t feel as sad or nostalgic as I expected, even while driving past our old house. My husband said it’s because I’ve moved on. Except, overall, I didn’t miss Mexico, either. But that made me ask myself: did I ever miss the US while traveling, knowing I’d return?
“You don’t miss Mexico?”
”Not even when it’s this cold?” My husband asked in disbelief.
“Okay, I miss Mexico’s weather right now,” I shivered, waiting for the car to warm up. “My fingers hurt!”
The Truth is Our Winter Visit was Too Long
We pulled into Columbus on a Saturday night and by Monday night, all four of us had colds. I did expect that to happen, but it still put a damper on some of our plans. In that way, the length of our visit was okay because we were able to reschedule with friends who didn’t want our germs.
However, in every other way, an 18 day visit in the middle of winter is too long. It’s expensive. We did get to see my sister and her children almost every day. Other than that, I got bored. When you can’t spend time outdoors (the temperature hovered in the single digits), it limits where you can go because costs to go to indoor attractions add up.
One surprising thing
Surprisingly, 17 days in a hotel room with two children wasn’t as horrible as it sounds.
As usual, we chose a hotel with a pool. It was a little cool for swimming and we swam anyway. It would have been perfect had there been a hot tub. However, the price was affordable. Always, always, always choose a hotel with a pool when you have children!
Did I say my emotions were normal? Wait.
I spent a lot of time worried about the dogs… and it feeds my anxiety that something *did* happen to them while we were gone. They are fine, at least. But yeah, it feeds those feelings.
While my husband’s calmness about “things happening” back home can frustrate me, there is no blame game. It isn’t my fault that one dog caused the other’s nose to bleed (thankfully without any lasting damage). It feels like it is my fault, but I need to remember that I made arrangements for a situation for my dogs that I felt would be best for them. My options were limited and I stand by my decision. They received the best care possible during our trip.
To continue with the weird emotions
On our way back home to Mexico, I got teary eyed at the airport. The feeling passed and then I felt okay. I know I will visit again.
In retrospect, our first 3 days were planned and were so satisfying. I thought more plans and visits would fall into place, but we ended up all being sick during that first week. Then, it was Christmas and everyone was busy. I did end up seeing people I really wanted to see, I also didn’t see people I’d have liked to see. We didn’t reach out to each other. For me, it was partially because there wasn’t a lot to do and our hotel room was too small for company.
Our home visit was a little too long and really affected our emotions upon returning to Mexico. As a family, it is taking several weeks to again accept our schedule here. While I miss that we can’t see our family and friends in the US regularly, I don’t miss the US as much as I expected to at this time. I also know we are returning. There is also so much of Mexico I want to explore. There is so much to see!
I’m glad we went to the US and now, I’m glad to be home.
How did you handle your first visit back to your home country? Have subsequent visits gotten easier? Do you miss your home while traveling?